Monthly Archives: Feb 2014

Gani Fawehinmi’s Family Rejects Centenary Award, Flays FG On Corruption

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The family of the late lawyer and activist, Gani Fawehinmi, has rejected a posthumous award planned by the Federal Government for him. The family cited the inclusion of former military president, Ibrahim Babangida, in the list of awardees; the recent killing of 43 students in Yobe; and abduction of 20 female students in Borno State, as its reasons.

It also said it was turning down the award because of the corruption in the polity, especially with the allegation that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, failed to remit $20 billion to the Federation Account; and the millions of naira being expended to celebrate the centenary, which it said could have been channeled into the nation’s teaching hospitals.

The oldest son of the late lawyer, Mohammed, in a letter to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Pius Anyim, said though the family was appreciative of the honour, it would be improper to accept it.

As part of the activities marking the 100-year existence of Nigeria, the federal government, last weekend, released a list of 100 Nigerians and friends of the country for conferment of Centenary Honours Awards.

Mr. Fawehinmi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, who died on September 5, 2009 at 71, was one of the two listed in the “Outstanding Bravery and Public Spiritedness” category. The other was Michael Chukwugekwu Ihuka.

The awards ceremony holds on Friday at the Banquet Hall, State House, Abuja.

Mr. Fawehinmi was known of his consistent demand for adherence to the rule of law, battle against military dictatorship, and defending the rights of the oppressed in the society while he was alive.

The Fawehinmi family said it was rejecting the award for their late patriarch because of the inclusion of Mr. Babangida on the list of awardees.

The former president, who ruled the country between 1985 and 1993, was listed in the category of “Outstanding Promoters of Unity, Patriotism and National Development.” Other listed alongside the former president were Yakubu Gowon, Murtala Mohammed, Olusegun Obasanjo, Muhammadu Buhari and Ernest Shonekan.

Others were Sani Abacha, Umaru Yar’Adua and Theophilus Danjuma.

The family explained that Mr. Babangida severally detained and tortured their late father while in power and that during one of those illegal detentions in Gashua, Yobe State in 1987, his (late Fawehinmi) cell was sprayed with toxic substances.

“The cumulative effect of that dastardly action led to our father, a non- smoker, contracting lung cancer which eventually led to his death on September 5, 2009,” it said.

“We therefore, find it morally incongruous and psychologically debilitating for our family to stand on the same podium with General Babangida to receive awards.”

The Fawehinmi family also said it was rejecting the award because of last Monday’s killing of dozens of students of the Federal Government College, Buni Yadi, Yobe State, and the reported abduction of 20 female students in Borno State by the Boko Haram sect.

Stating that Mr. Fawehinmi was empathetic to the sufferings of Nigerians, the family noted that if he were to be alive, he would not be winning and dining with all the glitterati at a Centenary celebration under these circumstances.

The family lamented that in the past few weeks, the polity had been “assaulted with putrid odour of corruption with the alleged $20 billion missing in NNPC, a development that became the Archilles heel of Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the suspended Governor of Central Bank.”

It sated that as an anti-corruption activist, if Mr. Fawehnmi were to be alive, he would have confronted the issue head-long and possibly gone to court.

“With the issue still raging, would our late father have accepted this award at this critical moment? Certainly no,” the family said.

Stressing that though that their father was “unrepentantly for the unity of Nigeria,” the Fawehinmi family contended that with the level of profligacy in some of the events celebrating Nigeria’s centenary, the late lawyer “would have preferred these multi- million Naira expenditures channelled to our decrepit Teaching hospitals, than unproductive razzmatazz that do not improve the socio-economic well being of our people.”

Copy of the family letter is reproduced below:

February 27, 2014
Chief Anyim Pius Anyim,
Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria,


We acknowledge the receipt of your letter, dated February 24, 2014, which was routed through Mr Tony Akiotu, Group Managing Director, DAAR Communications, Abuja, wherein our late father, Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) was chosen as one of the awardees of the Centenary celebrations of Nigeria by President Goodluck Jonathan.

We want thank the Federal Government for considering our late father for this HONOUR.

However, for reasons stated here under, our family has decided it would be inexpedient to accept the award:

1. In the list of the awardees published by the Federal Government, was the name of former military dictator, General Ibrahim Babangida, who as military president, severally detained and tortured our late father. In the course of one of such illegal and inhuman detentions, our late father’s cell was sprayed with toxic substances while in Gashua prison in 1987. The cumulative effect of that dastardly action led to our father, a non- smoker, contracting lung cancer which eventually led to his death on September 5, 2009. We therefore, find it morally incongruous and psychologically debilitating for our family to stand on the same podium with General Babangida to receive awards.

2. Our late father was empathetic to the sufferings of our people, particularly students. In the last 72 hours, 43 innocent students were mowed down by the blood- thirsty Boko Haram terrorists in Yobe state, while 20 other girls were similarly abducted by these same band of terrorists. These girls are still in captivity while their fate is unknown. If our late father were to be alive, would he be wining and dining with all the glitterati at a Centenary celebration under these circumstances? Certainly no.

3. In the past few weeks, the polity has been assaulted with putrid odour of corruption with the alleged $20 billion missing in NNPC, a development that became the Archilles heel of Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the suspended Governor of Central Bank. As an anti-corruption activist, if he were to be alive, our late father would have confronted the issue head-long and possibly gone to court. With the issue still raging, would our late father have accepted this award at this critical moment? Certainly no.

4. Our late father was unrepentantly for the UNITY of Nigeria. However, with the level of profligacy in some of the events celebrating NIGERIA’S Centenary, our late father would have preferred these multi- million Naira expenditures channelled to our decrepit Teaching hospitals, than unproductive razzmatazz that do not improve the socio-Economic well being of our people.

Sir, for these reasons, our family respectfully declines to receive the award about to be conferred on our late father by the government.

Please, accept the assurances of our highest consideration. Long live Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Mohammed Fawehinmi
(For and on behalf of late Gani Fawehinmi family)

Source: Premium Times

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Posted by on Feb 27, 2014 in Opinion


Full Text of President Jonathan’s Centenary Address

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Dear Compatriots,

1. I extend warm greetings and felicitations to all Nigerians as we celebrate our nation’s centenary; a significant milestone in our journey to Nationhood.

2. One hundred years ago, on the 1st of January 1914, the British Colonial authorities amalgamated the Southern and Northern Protectorates, giving birth to the single geo-political entity called Nigeria which has become our home, our hope, and our heritage.

3. I have often expressed the conviction that our amalgamation was not a mistake. While our union may have been inspired by considerations external to our people; I have no doubt that we are destined by God Almighty to live together as one big nation, united in diversity.

4. I consider myself specially privileged to lead our country into its second century of existence. And as I speak with you today, I feel the full weight of our hundred-year history. But what I feel most is not frustration, it is not disillusionment. What I feel is great pride and great hope for a country that is bound to overcome the transient pains of the moment and eventually take its rightful place among the greatest nations on earth.

5. Like every country of the world, we have had our troubles. And we still do. We have fought a civil war. We have seen civil authorities overthrown by the military. We have suffered sectarian violence. And as I speak, a part of our country is still suffering from the brutal assault of terrorists and insurgents.

6. While the occasion of our centenary undoubtedly calls for celebration, it is also a moment to pause and reflect on our journey of the past one hundred years, to take stock of our past and consider the best way forward for our nation.

7. Even as we celebrate our centenary, we must realise that in the context of history, our nation is still in its infancy.

8. We are a nation of the future, not of the past and while we may have travelled for a century, we are not yet at our destination of greatness.

9. The amalgamation of 1914 was only the first step in our national journey. Unification was followed by independence and democracy which have unleashed the enormous potentials of our people and laid the foundation for our nation’s greatness.

10. In challenging times, it is easy to become pessimistic and cynical. But hope, when grounded in realism, enables and inspires progress. Therefore, as we celebrate our first century of nationhood and enter a second, we must not lose sight of all that we have achieved since 1914 in terms of nation-building, development and progress.

11. Today, we salute once again the great heroes of our nation – Herbert Macaulay, Ernest Ikoli, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Alvan Ikoku, Chief Harold Dappa-Biriye, Dr. Michael Okpara, Chief Anthony Enahoro, Mallam Aminu Kano, Mokwugo Okoye and Chief Michael Imoudu among others.

12. We must be inspired by our past to overcome the obstacles we face in the present and honour our forebears by realising the promise of a Nigeria that is not only independent but also truly unified, prosperous and admired the world over.

13. The history of Nigeria since independence is the story of a struggle to fulfill our great promise. The discovery of oil in our country in the late 1950s offered new hope of prosperity but we have not always been able to reap the benefits in a fair and equitable way.

14. The situation was not helped by political instability and the frequent suspension of democracy by military coups. During the civil war, the very existence of our country was cast into doubt but through it all, the promise of a Nigeria that is united, free and strong remained in our people’s hearts.

15. Thanks to the efforts of our statesmen and women, and millions of ordinary Nigerians, the union endured and flourished. I would like to specifically commend members of the Armed Forces for their contributions and sacrifices to keep Nigeria one.

16. General Yakubu Gowon had the wisdom and grace to declare that the civil war had seen “no victor, no vanquished” and welcomed, “the dawn of national reconciliation”.

17. It was in this spirit that General Olusegun Obasanjo collected the instruments of surrender at the end of the war and later became the first military ruler in our country to hand over power voluntarily to a democratic government.

18. While the Second Republic did not last, his fine example was later followed by General Abdulsalam Abubakar who paved the way for our current democratic dispensation which has lasted longer than the previous three put together.

19. As we celebrate our centenary, I believe that it is vital that we focus our thoughts on the vast potentials of a unified and progressive Nigeria; and build on the relative stability of the Fourth Republic to achieve accelerated national socio-economic development.

20. I also believe that the future greatness of our country is assured by the favourable tail winds of a resilient population, ecological diversity, rich natural resources and a national consciousness that rises above our differences.

21. We are a unique country. We have been brought together in a union like no other by providence. Our nation has evolved from three regions to thirty six states and a Federal Capital Territory.

22. We have transited from the Parliamentary to a Presidential system of government. We have moved our capital from the coastal city of Lagos to Abuja, at the centre of our country.

23. Today Abuja stands as a monument to our national aspiration for greater unity; it symbolises our dream of a modern nation unhinged from primordial cleavages and designed as a melting pot of our diversity.

24. If, in our first century, we could build a new capital city, we can surely build a newer, stronger, more united and prosperous Nigeria in the next century that will be an authentic African success story.

25. The whole world awaits this African success story. With our sheer size, population, history, resilience, human and natural resources and economic potentials, Nigeria is divinely ordained to lead the African Renaissance.

26. That is why I am confident that in the next 100 years, those who will celebrate Nigeria’s second centenary, will do so as a united, prosperous and politically stable nation which is truly the pride and glory of Africa and the entire black race.

27. The key to the fulfilment of that vision is our continued unity as a nation. Perhaps one of the most amazing stories of our political evolution in the last hundred years is that an ordinary child of ordinary parentage from a minority group has risen to occupy the highest office in our country.

28. As we march into the next hundred years, it is my hope that mine will no longer be an extra-ordinary story but an accepted reality of our democracy that every Nigerian child can pursue his or her dreams no matter how tall; that every Nigerian child can aspire to any position in our country, and will not be judged by the language that he speaks or by how he worships God; not by gender nor by class; but by his abilities and the power of his dreams.

29. I am proud and privileged to have been elected leader of Nigeria and I consider it my solemn responsibility to act in the best interest of the nation at all times.

30. Dear compatriots, in line with the thoughts of that great son of our continent, Nelson Mandela, let us not judge ourselves, and let not the world judge us by how many times we have stumbled, but by how strongly we have risen, every single time that we have faltered.

31. Even as we remain resolute in our conviction that our union is non-negotiable, we must never be afraid to embrace dialogue and strengthen the basis of this most cherished union. A strong nation is not that which shies away from those difficult questions of its existence, but that which confronts such questions, and together provides answers to them in a way that guarantees fairness, justice and equity for all stakeholders.

32. My call for the National Conference in this first year of our second century is to provide the platform to confront our challenges. I am confident that we shall rise from this conference with renewed courage and confidence to march through the next century and beyond, to overcome all obstacles on the path to the fulfillment of our globally acknowledged potential for greatness.

33. I have referred to national leaders who did so much to build our nation in the past hundred years but nation-building is not just a matter for great leaders and elites alone.

34. All Nigerians must be involved in this national endeavour. From the threads of our regional, ethnic and religious diversities we must continuously weave a vibrant collage of values that strengthen the Nigerian spirit.

35. The coming National Conference should not be about a few, privileged persons dictating the terms of debate but an opportunity for all Nigerians to take part in a comprehensive dialogue to further strengthen our union.

36. I am hopeful that the conference will not result in parochial bargaining between competing regions, ethnic, religious and other interest groups but in an objective dialogue about the way forward for our nation and how to ensure a more harmonious balance among our three tiers of government.

37. My dear compatriots, as we celebrate our centenary, the security situation in some of our North-Eastern States, sadly remains a major concern for us. Just yesterday, young students, full of hopes and dreams for a great future, were callously murdered as they slept in their college dormitories in Yobe State. I am deeply saddened by their deaths and that of other Nigerians at the hands of terrorists. Our hearts go out to their parents and relatives, colleagues and school authorities.

38. We will continue to do everything possible to permanently eradicate the scourge of terrorism and insurgency from our country. We recognise that the root cause of militancy, terrorism and insurgency is not the strength of extremist ideas but corrupted values and ignorance.

39. That is why our counter-terrorism strategy is not just about enforcing law and order as we have equipped our security forces to do. It also involves expanding economic opportunities, social inclusion, education and other measures that will help restore normalcy not just in the short term, but permanently.

40. I want to reassure Nigerians that terrorism, strife and insecurity in any part of Nigeria are abhorrent and unacceptable to us. I urge leaders throughout Nigeria to ensure that ethnicity and religion are not allowed to become political issues.

41. I hope and pray that one hundred years from now, Nigerians will look back on another century of achievements during which our union was strengthened, our independence was enhanced, our democracy was entrenched and our example was followed by leaders of other nations whose ambition is to emulate the success of Nigeria; a country that met its difficulties head-on and fulfilled its promise.

42. Finally, Dear Compatriots, as we enter a second century in the life of our nation, let us rededicate ourselves to doing more to empower the youth of our country. Our common heritage and future prosperity are best protected and guaranteed by them. We must commit our full energies and resources to empowering them to achieve our collective vision of greatness in this second century of our nationhood.

43. That is the task before our country; that is the cause I have chosen to champion and I believe we will triumph.

44. I wish all Nigerians happy Centenary celebrations.

45. Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

46. I thank you.

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Posted by on Feb 27, 2014 in Opinion


Pres. Jonathan Sacks Sanusi, Nominates New CBN Governor

President Goodluck Jonathan has forwarded the names of Godwin Emefiele and Adelabu Adekoya to the Senate for confirmation as Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor and Deputy Governor, respectively.

The nomination follows the earlier suspension of Mr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as the Governor of CBN and subsequent appointment of Dr. Sarah Alade as Acting CBN Governor.

The presidency stated stated that it was deeply concerned about far-reaching irregularities under Mallam Sanusi’s watch which have distracted the Central Bank away from the pursuit and achievement of its statutory mandate.

Information has it that Mr. Sanusi, who is currently outside the country, may seek legal means to fight his sudden removal.

Unconfirmed reports also insinuated that the Federal Government plans to arrest Mr. Sanusi whenever he returns to Nigeria.

Mr. Sanusi is due for retirement as the CBN Governor in June 2014.

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Posted by on Feb 20, 2014 in Opinion


Dele Momodu: In Search of That Man (II)

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Fellow Nigerians, last week, I raised a lot of posers about how to find that man, or woman, who can lead us to our Eldorado. I was very happy to see that many of the readers were favourably disposed to my thesis on Leadership. This week, let us continue the chronicle from where we stopped. Nothing is more important than finding the best President for our great country. The Presidency of Nigeria is too important and extremely powerful to be left in the hands of someone who does not know or understand the magnitude of the work at hand.

Nigeria is almost 50 or more years backward in infrastructural development and requires sharp vision, supreme sacrifice and total dedication of a leader prepared to work at the speed of light. A ceremonial figure is not who we need at this time when we are all hoping for a bloodless revolution on all fronts in order to catch up with the rest of the world. A feel good rocker is far from what Nigeria requires to rise up from its deep slumber.

Nigeria needs a brilliant, clear-head plus a team of our brightest brains. Most professional politicians will never be able to do it. They are too careless and reckless and fail to think outside the box. We have so much money available, as well as untapped mega-resources already in place, for a supersonic take-off whenever we are seriously ready for the liberation flight. What is lacking is that one man at the very top, a competent Captain in the cockpit, who is able to reorder our priorities from the present regime of brutal profligacy to a government of concerted frugality. Nigerian politicians have curiously continued to live in fool’s paradise while majority of the citizens live in wanton discomfort. The poverty level has reached such a dangerous level that we need to see some semblance of concern on the part of the privilegentsia.

Our presidential system has further compounded our problems. It confers too much power in the hands of one man who may be naturally tempted to see himself as God. The zoning system favoured by the ruling party, and the principle of Federal character enshrined in our laws, have also done substantial damage by promoting and institutionalising mediocrity and irrational competition for the national cake. Political appointments have become opportunities for total assault on the treasury. And whenever critics complain these days, government apologists will intervene by asking if the acts of brigandage started with the present government. As if that can ever be justification for the continuation of the mindless looting of our treasured assets. The decline in the quality of leaders is the final tragedy to befall our nation.

I wish to single out Chief Obafemi Awolowo as the greatest performing leader of Nigeria for all times. His achievements remain evergreen everywhere you look in what used to be known as the Western Region. It is difficult to find such a man of uncommon brilliance, incredible sagacity, boundless vision, humane passion, selfless discipline and unmatchable genius around today. Even those who disagree with his politics cannot but acknowledge that he has inspired many generations of upwardly mobile leaders. In death, Awolowo’s sparkling ideology remains intact. Both sides of the political divide regularly proclaim his name as mantra in order to be seen as serious political contenders. His intellectual works speak volume about a man who certainly was not an accidental leader. He was born a genuine transformational head. And he lived up to his iconic image.

A short reign made it impossible to see how much General Murtala Muhammed would have achieved. But within six months, the fiery officer was able to show signs of a visionary leader who came fully prepared for something close to a Jerry Rawlings revolution in Ghana. The first thing that endeared him to many was the stripping of himself of ostentation and returning most of his material acquisition to the State. He recognised the need for parsimony in the Government where there are several competing developmental needs. That was totally against tradition, in a country where leaders acquire what they would never need in arrears and in advance. Nigeria is in dire need of such leaders who know that the first task is atonement of sins and a total rededication to a life of humility and simplicity.

We are not likely to have perfect leaders but we can make do with a few aspiring heroes we have on ground. Therefore, let me add very quickly that the search does not preclude the incumbent President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan lest I’m accused of unbridled bias that is commonplace in our country today. His profile would have been perfect for the type of leader Nigeria needs because of his humble background and the manner he was catapulted on to the national stage. However, he seems to have been totally hijacked by the demons of power by becoming one of the most expensively flamboyant leaders in Nigerian history. The time and funds being wasted on politicking at the moment could have been judiciously spent on delivering his promises to the people and his quest for a second term would have been far easier to achieve. Unfortunately, he has chosen the same path of most of his predecessors and I seriously doubt he can obtain a better result. My main thesis is that there are Nigerian leaders who actually know the solutions to our myriad of problems but several factors impede them from doing the right things for the Nation.

Lack of confidence in their ability to do things differently is a one of the major problems. As soon as a leader attains power, the hawks that made it possible for his predecessors to fail will pounce on the new one. They will reel out a long list of dos and don’ts. They will persuade him not to tinker with the status quo and remind him about how someone like President Olusegun Obasanjo was able to consolidate power. They will assure him of their support if he can play the ethnic and religious cards. But they studiously forget to tell him the outcome and result of those who employed the same methods and methodology and how they failed woefully. This is the bane of Leadership in Nigeria.

The typical Nigerian Leader does not believe the country deserves to develop at the pace of other nations with similar human and material resources. He believes we were born in squalor and must die in filth. His priority is to share and allocate our commonwealth among his cronies, elites and godfathers. The money he would have spent on monumental development is often wasted on a few people and pressure groups. For example, sending pilgrims to Mecca and Jerusalem in a supposed secular State has become a spectacular drain on the economy. It is that fear of rocking the boat and acute visionlessness that makes a leader to continue the tradition of waste. A good leader would have known that we can turn Nigeria to our own Mecca and Jerusalem with all the resources being frittered away on the altar of fake piety and religiousness. Those citizens who wish to go on pilgrimage are very free to do so on their own terms and according to their financial standing. There is absolutely no need for government involvement.

A good Leader would embrace minimalism in power but ours are different human beings who see power only as invitation to treat and turn government houses into a house of commotion and promotion of selfish interests. The very composition and composure of many of these leaders suggest a people without ambition or direction. To them, every day is Christmas. A serious leader must be focussed and purposeful. This is what I admire most about the office of the Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola. The ambience around the Lagos State Government House clearly projects seriousness and no room for frivolity. The surrounding is designed to reflect a professional environment where philosophers are at work. The quality of work being churned out is not fortuitous but that of great thinkers and forward-looking technocrats. Most of his projects are relatively comparable to international standards. Beyond the spanking clean atmosphere, Fashola has guts. A Leader must have the strength of courage to take difficult decisions even when feathers would be ruffled.

Another Leader who has shown excellent attention to qualitative service is the fine and charismatic man of Cross River State, Mr Donald Duke. Nigeria can do with such urbane and cosmopolitan human beings. I remember, when as Governor of Cross River State, people used to accuse him of being very stingy. Indeed, he had good reason to be thrifty. He knew his State was not one of the richer States but was determined to make the best out of the limited allocations available to him. As President, a Donald Duke would have cleaned up our nation and put us on the road to true transformation and industrial revolution.

We also remember with nostalgia how Nasir El Rufai nearly turned Abuja into the Hong Kong of Africa before his hard work was truncated and the city fell into the hands of carpetbaggers. Hate him or love him, El Rufai is the epitome of the modernist approach to governance. I think the secret lies in his ability to read widely and voraciously and imbibe the spirit embedded in those voluminous books. The world has changed so much that a nation like Nigeria can no longer be governed by those who still reside in antiquity.

I must confess my special admiration for Obiageli Ezekwesili. It is a shame to think Nigeria is blessed with cerebral beings like Oby and yet we are operating such a backward system of Education. When she left Nigeria as Minister, she was promptly employed by the World Bank as Vice President, strictly on merit. She’s never carried power on her head and has maintained a dignified soberness despite her sterling qualifications and stunning accomplishments. Many of our current Leaders would become instantly unemployed and unemployable outside power, the reason most prefer to die in office. If Nigeria must make progress we need consummate technocrats like Oby in the highest positions in Nigeria.

Not every Leader combines Leadership skills with political acumen, but Godswill Akpabio, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, is in a class of his own. He is rated as one of the glowing stars of PDP, the ruling party and has mastered how to swim in the shark-infested waters of Nigeria’s political ocean. I wish he could translate what he has done at the State level to National platform but he knows better than to touch the tiger by the tail and has decided to kill any real or imaginary ambition.

They can call Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi whatever name they like but there is no doubt that the Governor of Rivers State is a man of impeccable taste and superlative drive. Even some of his most vociferous critics acknowledge the fact that it would be difficult to match the quality of projects he has started and is about to complete in Rivers State against all manner of frustration and intimidation from those who accuse him of obstinacy and arrogance. Truth is Amaechi has demystified power in a country where power is the god many worship. Amaechi’s simplicity, to more objective people, is disarming. He has courage in abundance and this is a key ingredient needed to succeed as a Leader.

I love and crave for bridge-builders like Aminu Tambuwal, the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Nigeria is too complex and complicated to be handed over to ethnic warlords and irredentists. This was the type of character that made Chief Moshood Abiola extraordinarily special. Anyone who seeks to lead Nigeria today must believe in the unity of Nigeria and work assiduously to keep the country together as one. Those seeking the destruction of Nigeria are few and far between and it is only for personal and selfish reasons. Tambuwal has demolished the artificial barriers of tribe and religion by working across boundaries. He does not carry his number four position on his head but moves about his State duties with minimal disruption to the lives and activities of fellow citizens. His plainness, grace and humility are complimented by his intelligence, astuteness and vision. He is truly a veritable Leader worthy of entrusting the affairs of our great Nation to if the opportunity presents itself. There are many other great Nigerians on my waitlist.

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Posted by on Feb 15, 2014 in Opinion


Dele Momodu: In Search of that Man

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“A man of knowledge is free… He has no honor, no dignity, no family, no home, no country, But only life to be lived.”

– Don Juan

Fellow Nigerians, one of the most frequently asked questions by friend and foe is: why do you want to be President and not a Senator or Governor? The answer is very simple. You need executive power in the hands of a committed and determined change agent to be able to regenerate Nigeria. The Governors can do as much as the omnipotent and ubiquitous President allows these days. Governors have to pay obeisance to Him on High in Abuja as frequently as possible or face the wrath of the almighty. The lack of proper Federalism has made it impossible for the Federating units to operate at optimal speed and value. Everyone looks at the body language of the President and must know how to decode the subliminal messages emanating from him lest something bad begin to happen to you and yours.

The Legislators also understand the game. In reality they can’t be too independent. They are regularly bullied or compromised by the omniscient executive. Is it not curious that no legislator has been able to reject the atrocious remunerations being allocated to them? That is the bait the executive uses to hook, implicate, placate and tame the shrew. The Judiciary has been struggling to free itself from the stranglehold of the executive arm of government but it has not been too easy. The executive has the power to hire and fire via subterfuge. Everything has become politicised and no institution is too sacred to be desecrated. I do not want to be specific but we are all witnesses to the deluge of contradictory judgments dissembled by our Judges in staccato fashion.

The story of the Fourth Estate of the Realm is almost similar. Despite the preponderance of electronic and print media, most organisations require government patronage to survive in a turbulent market. The situation is worse for the electronic media. You have to behave and tread softly or get yanked off the air. Government remains the veritable source of news in Nigeria. Most journalists have to camp inside and outside various government houses and make sure they are chummy with the government spokesperson or miss out on the goody train. Our job is too delicate. Societal expectations are not often realistic. Everyone goes about their businesses and expect the reporter to be the sacrificial Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the Earth. And when the media organisation dies due to lack of patronage the same society moves on casually and leaves the casualties to stew in their own juices. We’ve seen it too many times.

Where then do we turn? You would say the civil society. Even that is not an easy route. That road is paved and littered with thorns. There is nothing any one can do for his country that the likes of Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), Mr Femi Falana (SAN) and others of their ilk did not try. Gani could not be made a President despite being called the Senior Advocate of the Masses while Femi could not become the Governor of Ekiti State. The principalities that control the levers of power in Nigeria cannot be easily uprooted and upstaged. They have their secret weapons that are so potent and recyclable. If they drop the spectre of ethnicity and it fails, they will drop the bomb of religion. If that fails to explode, they will try the whiff of money or throw all the three aces at once. Trust me, it works like magic. How many people can resist the lure of lucre in a largely impoverished environment? I’m sure these facts are known to you all.

I’ve answered my opening question so many times that I can almost write a doctoral thesis on it. I’ve come to the conclusion that majority of our citizens would love to have a good President in Nigeria. However, I’m not sure they want him even if they find him and recognise him as the one they’ve been awaiting all along, for several reasons I will explain shortly. Wherever two or more Nigerians are gathered the topic of discussion must dovetail into politics. We are all experts in political science and it is strange that we each shout about corruption until we’ve been tested. Those who have no opportunities of getting close to the national cake call everyone in government rogues. I often wonder why it is so easy for radicals of yesteryears to decay and disappear into oblivion. This has made the search for that special leader very cumbersome and frustrating. So where do we go from here?

Let us begin with definitions to be sure we are all on the same page. Who is a good Leader? A good Leader is that man or woman who was born to lead or acquired the skills along the way. He is not a Saint but possesses saintly inclinations. He loves unconditionally. He’s detribalised. He has religious tolerance. He has the ability to manage people and resources. He is a man of vision with a sound mind to see what most people find difficult to decipher. He is a man of modest means who has managed his life prudently and is humble in success. He is very educated not by just going to school but by being exposed to great knowledge about the complex world in which we live.

He is God-fearing without being a religious bigot. He is an ideologue who’s flexible enough to consider other principles of governance where applicable. He is charismatic and must be a good representative of his country wherever he goes. He is eloquent and can communicate with his people effortlessly. He is inspirational and can galvanise his people into dreaming big. He is trusted to the extent that his people are ready to make any necessary sacrifice required of them. He is a man of the people, in short.

Why do we need that one leader and not many leaders? The answer is simple. No nation is governed by a multitude but by one powerful and clear-headed leader whose ideas and ideals percolate down the entire fabric of society. He knows his onions and is ready to risk his all to succeed glowingly where others failed woefully. Other leaders would naturally queue behind him to tap into his uncommon wisdom, determination and resilience. History is replete with stories of such monumental figures.

My favourite example is Mao Tse-tung, former Chairman of the Communist Party of China. He was a revolutionary who’s often referred to as the founding father of the People’s Republic of China. The irony of his life is that he was never born poor being the son of a wealthy farmer who was greatly influenced by Marxist-Leninist theories. It is interesting to note that Chairman Mao declared the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949 under the control of a one-party socialist movement. Against all odds, and after several cultural, economic and political battles, he was able to build a new China into a super power. The lesson in his life is that change can never be a tea party. A leader who is only interested in enjoying the paraphernalia of office would never be able to transform his nation. The population of China alone was challenging enough yet he was able to put China on sound footing.

My next example is Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore. Like Chairman Mao, he is also regarded as the Father of Singapore and was its first Prime Minister. At the time of his attaining power, Singapore was a miserable Third World Country but through discipline and determination he was able to rebuild a dilapidated nation into a First World country and a remarkable Asian Tiger. The lesson again is that a true transformational leader must be ready to put his nation above earthly treasures and pleasures. The story of Lee Kuan Yew is a must read for all aspiring politicians who wish to make the much-desired difference.

Mahatma Gandhi’s name can never be omitted in world history because of the sacrifice he made for the emancipation of his country. He was the major promoter of nonviolent civil disobedience and led India to Independence in August 1947. Interestingly, his birthday which is now a national holiday is on October 2. The man practically starved and fasted himself to death while protesting against man’s inhumanity to man. He was imprisoned on several occasions in India and South Africa. His was a life of sacrifice for the betterment of his larger society and humanity in general.

Please, endure one more example in contemporary history, The Great Madiba, Nelson Mandela of South Africa. Everyone is fascinated by the life history of Mandela yet we can hardly point at one African leader today who is willing and ready to make the necessary sacrifice for his country like he did. All those who went to shed crocodile tears at his funeral forgot his legacies as soon as they returned from the photo opportunity. The man would not have suffered in vain if his painful existence gave birth to others like him. Such is the irony of life.

Long before all these leaders, the world had men who became deified and whose names continue to reverberate globally. Prophet Mohammed and Jesus Christ remain the biggest iconic figures in religion. It is noteworthy that many of us call their names but easily forget what they stood for in world history. Their lives reflected how one tree can make a forest. The essence of my preamble is to demonstrate why we must continue the search for that elusive man or woman with the true capacity to transform our country from its penurious state to a prosperous haven.

Is it possible to have such a leader in Nigeria? The answer is yes. We tend to think our liberator would have to descend from heaven. It is never going to happen in that manner. The kind of man we want exists already but we are too blinded by many primordial sentiments that we can’t even see or identify such a person. Indeed, several of them exist. I will go into our sordid history to pick a few examples of how we missed the boat in the past and hoping such mistakes would not be repeated over and over again. The choices I’m going to pick will be controversial but so be it. In a country where everything is quotalised, I expect many people to kick but my choices are by no means exhaustive. They are just glaring glimpses of missed opportunities due to our collective myopia.

I will also endeavour to prove that apart from our wasted heroes we have many heroes wasting away at the moment. Until we unburden our souls and purge our minds of long-held prejudices, that man we need would continue to elude us. The land is filled with bitterness and volatile anger. Is this the solution? I sincerely don’t think so. Many are saying the country should break up. But this is a worse option. They tend to forget that the greatness of China, India, America and several others stems largely from their substantial population. The secret of America is in absorbing and tolerating people of all races. Our intolerance level is abysmal and extremely dangerous. We hate our next door neighbour with such venom and only God knows who would restore peace, love and joy to this land of great men and women.

I believe all hope is not lost. My duty is to pursue the line of argument that Nigeria has many great men and women who can lead her to greatness. Most times, politics is a game of trial by error. There are no hard and fast rules. Until you try a particular leader you may never know his capabilities.

I shall start with the living generation of potentially great leaders simply because they can make a difference whilst we can only rue what might have been regarding those that have passed on. Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola of Lagos State epitomises one of such miracles and positive accident of Leadership. He has confounded all those who queried the wisdom of the then Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu when he backed him with all his might. We must give Tinubu some credit more than his critics are willing to do. He knows how to identify good materials.

Our search for that man of our dreams must begin with seeking our best materials with a fine toothcomb. We must find and encourage them. Gold is usually rough before it is polished. We have a unique opportunity to turn ourselves into miners. If we do not participate in one form or another, we have no reason to lament later.

We shall continue our analysis next week, by God’s grace. The change may be closer than we think.

Follow me on Twitter @Femiolas

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Posted by on Feb 15, 2014 in Opinion


CBN Launches Bank Verification Number

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Friday inaugurated Bank Verification Number (BVN) to revolutionise banking and payment systems in the country.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the BVN is a biometric authentication of bank customers using Point of Sale (PoS) and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).

The biometric authentication is meant to address the safety of customers’ funds and avoid losses through compromise of Personal Identification Numbers (PIN).

The CBN Governor, Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, said at the launch in Lagos that banks would have captured biometric details of all customers nationwide within the next 18 months.

He said that by next week, the CBN would start to issue circulars to banks to inform their customers to come in and register for the biometric authentication.

Sanusi said that the platform already rolled out nationwide attracted no charges, adding that it would allow banks to enroll and verify the identity of each customer from any point of transaction device.

Mr Ade Shonubi, the Managing Director of the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), whose company provides the connectivity service, lauded the initiative.

Shonubi said that the initiative represented a major landmark in the Bankers Committee’s efforts at promoting financial inclusion drive and prevent money laundering in the system.

He said that the bankers’ committee’s initiative would also allow banks to give their customers unique identities.

Mr Godwin Emefiele, the Managing Director of Zenith Bank and Chairman, Sub-Committee on Biometric in bankers’ committee, said he was happy that the group met the deadline.

Emefiele also congratulated the CBN on the launch of the project, adding that it would open up more consumers banking services.

He said that the initiative supported by all the banks in the country would also boost consumer lending.

The Zenith Bank boss added that the initiative would boost the economy irrespective of banks’ customers’ status and class.

“The issue of forgetting one’s personal identity number when it comes to transaction does not arise because the biometric cards only use bio-data information.’’

Mr Gunther Mull, the Managing Director of Dermalog BMS, a German company which handled the initiative, said this was the first time any country would embark on the platform for national use.

Mull said that the benefit of embracing the platform as a country was that it would make life easier for banks and their customers.

He congratulated the CBN on the success of its effort. (NAN)

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Posted by on Feb 15, 2014 in Opinion


The Cross and the Crossroad – Leke Alder

The Cross and the Crossroad – Leke Alder’s thoughts on the ongoing church controversy.

At the heart of the ongoing debate is the nature of church economics. Why do people give to churches in such huge figures? Why would a Pastor take money from the poor?

Recent events in the Church have generated social fervor about the lifestyles of men of the robe and the governance structure of the Church in Nigeria, in particular the Pentecostal hue. This is as expected because the funding profile of the Church is primarily derived from contributions from congregants. There is a lot of angst out there because Nigerians are experiencing economic hardship. This provides some of the context for the public backlash. However we risk throwing out the baby with the bathwater if our passion becomes a raging flood that sweeps away reason and structural facts.

Are there excesses in the church? No doubt. The eco-system is imperfect for the simple reason that Pastors are men afterall. And the operations of some snake oil merchants have only served to compound issues. There are now magicians in robes, economic opportunists in cassocks, ecclesiastical predators in surplices and charlatans in collars. But there are also genuine men of God and ministries, thousands upon thousands of them.

The spectrum of the Church in Nigeria consists of orthodox churches, evangelicals, pentecostal institutional and pentecostal independents. Methodist Church is orthodox, ECWA is evangelical, the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Deeper Life Bible Church and the Assemblies of God are pentecostal institutional, whilst Daystar Christian Centre is a pentecostal independent.

The Orthodox Church establishment laid the foundation for modern Nigeria. They are the offshoots of missionary work. They educated the people we now refer to as the founding fathers of the federation. They established the first set of hospitals and schools in Nigeria. Methodist Boys’ High School, Baptist Academy and Our Lady of Apostles Grammar School are well known examples of schools established by missionaries.

It was the Church that educated the first set of civil servants in Nigeria. And the Church has always been at the nexus of cultural re-orientation in Nigeria. Who can ever forget the work of Mary Slessor, the diminutive nurse who fought against the barbaric culture of the killing of twins? And so when we chant about the “labour of our heroes past,” we must not forget that some of these heroes are the missionaries and the orthodox establishments.

Now we do not know why but clearly, God raised a generational stream of young men and women to build on the foundational work of the orthodox churches. The work began with the establishment of the Scripture Union (S.U or C.U – Christian Union) in primary and secondary schools. From that movement emerged the generation of those who now head the Pentecostal institutional churches today, in particular the unassuming Pastor Enoch Adeboye and the self effacing Pastor William F. Kumuyi. Incidentally both attended The Apostolic Faith before fate directed their trajectories. Both are very well educated. Pastor Adeboye has a PhD in Applied Mathematics whilst Pastor Kumuyi has a first class honours degree in Mathematics. At the time of their ascendance, the “faith movement” was taking root in America and this spawned the ministries of the late Archbishop Benson Idahosa, Bishop David Oyedepo and Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor. We must also note the great work of a little known Englishman who settled in Ile Ife, the late Pa Elton. He would be responsible for the mentoring of the next ministerial generation and the establishment of Pentecostal doctrine in Nigeria.

However something major took place in the early 80s. A then unknown medical student at the University of Lagos was ordained a Pastor by the Assemblies of God Church. This was an extremely radical event 30 years ago. His name is Dr. Tunde Joda of the Christ Chapel fame. He was a product and proponent of the Faith Movement and was highly influenced by the ministries of Rev. Kenneth E. Hagin and Kenneth Copeland. He opened the door for his generation and made God exciting to young people. That was a generational advent and invariably members of that generation became Pastors.

Because of the educational background of the generation, the Pentecostal movement acquired sophistication. The emergent Pastors are generally creative in approach, aggressive, uninhibited and resourceful. Many emerged through the “model parish” structure of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. Dr. Tony Rapu would prove pivotal to that structure though there is evidence to the effect that Pastor Tunde Bakare was perhaps the first model parish Pastor. That was before he went on to found the Latter Rain Assembly.

Some in that generation are now in full time ministry but many maintain a dualism – they work as professional managers and entrepreneurs whilst running the churches on a full term basis. (Some are in government). And so we arrived at a literal prophetic era in Nigeria church history – the era of the order of priest-kings technically known as the Order of Melchizedek. All Christians belong to this Order but these young Pastors in dual callings typify the Order. Most are successful in their secular callings and it would be uncharitable to assume that they went into ministry for money. Most do not collect salaries from their churches. Instead they contribute. These emergent Pastors signified a generational move of God. The generation is noted for “speaking in tongues” – a peculiar glossolalia dating back to Pentecost. They are thus referred to as “Pentecostals”. (In modern parlance, the term “Pentecostal” has come to signify exuberant loud worship and gifted oratory). They redefined what a man of God is and till today, the redefinition presents a challenge to society. So aggressive are members of this Pentecostal movement that in a strange twist of fate, they exported Christianity back to the UK. And they have established churches in over 160 Nations of the world including Ukraine America and Ireland.

Nigeria as a nation has no social security system. The absence of social net is why individuals take care of the economic needs of their parents in old age. This familial approach to social security leaves huge swaths of needy citizens unattended to. Into this void has stepped the Church. The Church complements the efforts of some State governments who clearly cannot cope with the deluge of developmental challenges facing Nigeria. And the Pentecostal generation has acquitted itself wonderfully at this task.

Let’s be more particular. Pastor Taiwo Odukoya, a man of grace runs The Fountain of Life Church. It has a hospital, an orphanage, a school for the indigent and orphans and a vocational farm. Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, the founder of Trinity House supports indigent students with scholarships. His Lydia Grace Foundation supports the rehabilitation of lower class prostitutes, among so many other initiatives. Pastor Tony Rapu, the Pastor of This Present House runs one of the most successful drug rehabilitation programmes through the Freedom Foundation network. Pastor Poju Oyemade organises a hugely successful bi-annual youth empowerment seminar called The Platform.

Rev. Sam Adeyemi, a gentleman of the robe runs Daystar Christian Centre. His Church has a community impact programme and has renovated 5 State schools, among so many other programmes. He is particularly noted for leadership training. Pastor Paul Adefarasin of the House on the Rock Church hosts an annual cultural impact programme called The Experience. It is a major engagement platform for youths through music. The City of David, a Redeemed Church parish runs a most successful soccer academy and acclaimed football club, COD United FC. These are just a few examples of what these particular ministries are engaged in and space will not permit us to name the works of so many other ministries. Many church ministries run schools, hospitals, orphanages, sex worker rehabilitation programmes, drug rehabilitation programmes, community development programmes and youth development programmes. By the time we scale up to the network of Redeemed Christian Church of God and the like, the exponential value of Church ministries becomes staggering in proportion. The Catholic Church is responsible for the establishment of a post graduate university, the Pan African University. That university has taken up a major responsibility for skill development in the private sector. The Church also founded Loyola Jesuit Secondary School. Even the much maligned Bishop David Oyedepo founded two universities! No other Nigerian, living or dead has accomplished such feat as far as we know. Invariably almost every church has bent its back to carry the burden of the State and it’s a huge burden.

A wholesale condemnation of the Church is not helpful. The Church through its programs saves Nigeria from the consequences of its dereliction in governance. Perhaps there is a need for a compendium of the good works by churches that is accessible to the general public. The Church essentially aggregates resources to create a social security net for Nigeria. Otherwise we will have more drug addicts, prostitutes, orphans, hapless widows and certainly more crime. We will also have less kids in school, less young men acquiring trade skills, less micro-financing of small businesses, and less value orientation and instruction for our youths.

At the heart of the ongoing debate is the nature of church economics. Why do people give to churches in such huge figures? Why would a Pastor take money from the poor? To the man looking from the outside those giving ten percent of their salaries are either gullible or hypnotized. But the notion of giving is a fundamental of the Christian faith. Jesus said, “Give and it shall be given unto you”. Apostle Paul wrote, “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Cor 9: 6 – 7). Giving in Christianity is predicated on the principle of sowing and reaping. And giving is a socio-economic ladder according to Christian doctrine. It is also proof of love for God. It is within this context that we can understand why the poor give to churches. The poor man’s faith teaches him to give his way out of poverty, though we must admit that the role of industry is sometimes neglected in teachings. There are perversions of the doctrine of giving but that does not make the doctrine any less fundamental.

Now, unlike some religions, Christianity runs an economic commonwealth when it comes to institutional development and building programs. Everyone contributes to the commonwealth. And the value of a gift before God is relative to deprivation. That would seem heartless to the outsider and some will consider it exploitative, but the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath is a wonderful illustration of the dynamics of giving to a man of God (or church ministry) in an economic downturn. And the parable of the widow’s mite establishes the principle of relative deprivation as a measure of value.

That said, it must be mentioned that the Church has oft times operated with a silo mentality. There has to be better engagement between the Church and civil society. In addition, a peer-to-peer review system must be instituted. If the Pastors judge themselves they will escape condemnation. Some advocate state interference in religious affairs. Regulating the Church sounds okay in theory but it can prove a very dangerous idea in a tri-religious society like Nigeria. Not with all the goings on. And we may have a peculiar situation of a man of different faith sitting in judgment over Christian economics without doctrinal understanding and vice versa. We must not rush us into dangerous territory. As we shall soon discover, this obviously targeted regulation will create inconsistencies and challenges as we seek to apply it across all religious boards. But the Church has to recognize that society has significantly altered, and for many Nigerians it is the one true institution.


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Posted by on Feb 9, 2014 in Opinion

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